Comet NEOWISE!

Hey, Sky Fans!

How’s things today? You’ve probably been hearing a bunch of news about comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), which has been in the morning skies lately. If the photos and all the news stories are anything, it’s been absolutely fantastic.

It’s been cloudy around my place lately, and my bed’s been comfy, so I haven’t wanted to gamble with forcing myself on the world that early.

Last night, though, it popped into the evening’s skies, low toward the northwest. We had some more clouds and rain here, so I cancelled some plans to guide a friend through finding it. Another thing in the sky, another thing in the sky I’ll have to trust someone else to see for me.

But, then, I glanced out the window. “Shirt… stars!” only, I didn’t say “shirt.”

I raced outside with my binoculars, and started scanning the chunk of sky below the Big Dipper. Just a few days ago, I read this article from the good folks down at Sky and Telescope and got a better idea of where to look. With their guide in mind, I found it in just a couple minutes, just a couple of fingers-at-arm’s-length above the trees down the road.

Stunning doesn’t begin to describe it. It was really unbelievable. That tail! I think the last time I saw a comet, any comet, was Hale-Bopp in… what was that? 1995? We was kids! Or was that the one that smashed into Jupiter? Still, decades; plural.

I called my wife and kids, and there we stood. Through all the turmoil and upheaval of these last few months — and it has been hard, and it has been exhausting — we had this moment under the Big Dipper, staring at a snowy ball of rock and dirt 70 million miles away. For the first time in what seemed like forever, we had a moment.

As everyone grabbed for the binoculars, I stared at the spot where I was looking when I looked through them. Out there, I could see it among the stars. I could see it with my naked eye! I could see its tail, too! A naked-eye object even in my New York City suburban sky?! I mean, I know the city was actually behind me, but still, it’s not far.

As you know, I’m not much of an astrophotographer, but I set the camera to Auto, sat it on top of my… auto, crossed my fingers and flipped the shutter. Here’s a crop of what I got. First try!

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), at about 10pm July 14, 2020

That’s at about 10:00pm local time, and the majestic flare there is just the street light down the way. It’s nothing more exotic than that, but it shows you how much sky glow those things cause. Every little bit adds up. So, maybe we don’t need all of them, you know?

So, now it’s over to you. Comet NEOWISE will be visible in our night skies for the next week or so. If you have a good patch of sky below and alongside the Big Dipper, you may be able to find it if you head out starting around an hour after sundown. Here’s the finder chart in that Sky and Telescope I linked to above.

This is one of those things that really lives up to the hype that it’s been getting, whether you’ve never seen a comet before, or if you see them all the time. It’s truly gorgeous and, at least for today, put a smile on my face and got me writing… at least for today. Maybe it can do the same for you.

I hope you head out and can spot it. Let me know how it goes.

Clear skies, everyone!

10 Comments

  1. It’s a good feeling. After our views Sunday evening and Monday morning, I invited lots of local folks via email and social media to come see it Sunday evening. Most were successful. And the bonus was Jupiter and Saturn in the opposite direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Jim… that’s great. Yeah, I was hoping to do the same and have a little sky party — show the comet, show off the planets — but it hasn’t really worked out yet. It’s great that you did it.

      I hope you’ve been getting by okay. 🙂

      Like

  2. I’ve utterly failed when I look in the evening (generally low clouds and haze) and have had to force myself upon the world in the pre-dawn hours. (Fortunately way out in a field somewhere). Looking forwards to it getting higher, and hoping it doesn’t dim too much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah… yeah… I hope you have good luck with it… wait… have you seen it in the mornings? I was really hoping to show it to people last night, but, right, clouds.

      Like

  3. Thank you for posting this evening image. It validates what I observed on the one night I saw the comet. Your image looks close to my sketch. I was a bit worried I got it all wrong, because earlier pictures of pre-dawn Neowise showed a much more expansive shape.

    Like

  4. I remember Hale-Bopp and it was simply wonderful to watch. I have been wanting to see another one since then and I will definitely be out the next couple of nights to see this one. Thank for the info.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.